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Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race: Latest updates and live boat cam coverage

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Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2024

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Legacy Tracker - How can I find a yacht in the fleet ?

How can i choose favourites , tracker (beta) - can i choose a particular race time, i only want to look at boats within one category or division, tracker (beta) - how can i view previous races, what's the rhumb line , i don’t know what the different coloured sails represent, when should i use the legacy tracker, legacy tracker - can i choose a particular race time, why are there two comanche's shown on the tracker map , legacy tracker - i want to compare the routes of multiple boats, legacy tracker - how can i view previous races, tracker (beta) - how can i find a yacht in the fleet.

Click (or tap for tablets and smartphones) the eye icon beside the name of the yacht.  You will see a green tracking line which represents the yacht's route from the start.

Click (or tap for tables and smartphones) the heart icon beside the name of the yacht.  Your list of favourites can then be found in the drop down selection which is found at the top of the fleet list.

Yes.  The race time for what you can see in the Yacht Tracker window is indicated in the bottom rights hand corner.  You can adjust that time in 10 minute increments by moving the slider under the map.  To show the last recorded timepoint move the slider to the right hand end.

Choose the category you want (IRC, ORCi, PHS, Corinthian, Veteran, Grand Veteran, Sydney 38) using the Filter (Tracker (Beta)) or the dropdown menu under Fleet (Legacy Tracker), then choose the division you want (or "All" if you want to see all the boats in the category).  The map will automatically populate with those boats competing in the category and division you have selected.

Select the race year in the drop down selection at the top of the Yacht Tracker window.  The map will open showing the last time point in the race, and you can adjust the presentation from there.   If you want to view a boat's entire race, select the relevant race year and then move the slider to the left hand end, which will then show all the boats at the time of the race start.  You can then advance the boats in 10 minute increments - see the explanation below.

The rhumb line is the most direct course between the start line in Sydney Harbour and the finish line in Hobart.

Go to the Legend bar under the Fleet and Race Time bars in the Legacy Tracker.

The Legacy Tracker has been retained for those users that find that the Tracker (Beta) does not open or operate properly, particularly if they are using older browsers such as Internet Explorer.

Yes.  Under the bar "Race Time" select the day, hour and minute (in 10 minute increments) and press "Show Earlier Time".  That will then show the position of each boat as at that time.  To revert to current race time for the current year press "Show Latest Time".

The orange coloured sail represents the position of the race record holder ( LDV Comanche ) at the same timepoint in 2017, when she set the current open record.

Choose the boats as favourites, then go to favourites (in the drop down box) and press Toggle Track.  

Select the race year in the drop down selection in the "Race Time" bar in the left hand column of the Tracker window.  From there the other controls work as usual.   If you want to view a boat's entire race, select a race time later than its finishing time in the drop down selection under the race year, and press "Show Earlier Time".  You can also use the Favourites functionality to compare the track of multiple boats, as explained above.

Click (or tap for tablets and smartphones) the row of that yacht in the table in Yacht Tracker.  A dialogue box will open with boat data and you will see a green tracking line which represents that yacht's route from the start

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Sydney to Hobart yacht race 2023 guide: history, start time, black sails, favourites, distance, tracker

It starts on a harbour, finishes on a river and in-between sailors will ride a wave of emotion. How to follow the Sydney to Hobart, its history, drama, favourites, when it starts and expert guide.

Amanda Lulham

Don't miss out on the headlines from NSW. Followed categories will be added to My News.

It starts on a harbour, finishes on a river and in-between sailors will ride a wave of emotion.

The Sydney to Hobart yacht race is one of the most famous sporting events in Australia and one of the most respected ocean races internationally.

It is steeped in history, mystique and famous competitors.

It is also a revered sporting event contested by the best of the best in the world of sailing and racing and boats “one of the most spectacular starts of any sporting event in the world” according to our sailing expert Amanda Lulham

We’ve put together a guide to the famous bluewater yacht race covering everything from its history, disasters and past winners to how to follow the race and links to in-depth news and colour.

Start of the 2022 Rolex Sydney to Hobart yacht race on Sydney Harbour. Picture Carlo Borlenghi/Rolex


How long is the Sydney to Hobart ? It’s 628 nautical miles long.

How big is the fleet in 2023 ? At the close of entry there were 120 entrants. This has since decreased to around 100 which will include international entrants, 18 two-handed boats, four supermaxis and a number of minnows.

What was the worst Sydney to Hobart storm? In 1998 six men lost their lives at sea and a massive search and rescue mission was galvanised when the fleet was smashed by an intense low which caused wild winds and monstrous seas.

The crowd seen on the dock greeting a yacht in the race’s early days


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What is the history of the Sydney to Hobart? It started in 1945 as a cruise to Hobart and was contested by just nine yachts.

What is the best weather? That’s easy. Sailors love surfing. So any wind from behind or even on the side of their yacht will work. Upwind sailing is a real slog and can cause damage to boats and crew.

What happened to the Sydney to Hobart during Covid ? The race was cancelled for the first time in history in 2020 but returned a year later.

Scallywag at the start of the 2018 Sydney Hobart Yacht Race in Sydney. Picture: Brett Costello

What is the Sydney to Hobart race record? The race record is well under two days which is quite extraordinary. Comanche, now racing as Andoo Comanche, set the race record of one day nine hours, 15 minutes and 24 second back in 2017 when skippered south by Jim Cooney.

Sydney to Hobart start time : 1pm on Boxing Day on Sydney Harbour off multiple start lines.

Sydney to Hobart arrival: On a finish line on the Derwent River off Battery Point. Usually around two days after the Boxing Day start for the fastest but it can also be as fast as the race record of just over one day and nine hours.

The start of the race is a sight to behold. Picture: Brett Costello

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Can anyone enter the Sydney to Hobart yacht race? Yes, but ever crew does need a certain amount of experience. Boats must also have the appropriate paper work for their rating, safety certificates, radio licences and other checks.

Sydney top Hobart prize money . There is none. There are however trophies for winners.

Sydney to Hobart favourite: The defending line honours and overall winners are back in 2023 in Andoo Comanche and Celestial.

Women in the Sydney to Hobart: Women have been racing the Sydney to Hobart since the second edition of the race when two set sail.

One made it to Hobart and there is a trophy named in her honour - the Jane Tait Trophy for the first female skipper.

What year was the worst Sydney to Hobart yacht race? 1998. That year 115 started but only 44 finished.

InfoTrack, now renamed LawConnect, is one of four 100-footers in the race this year.

Why are there black sails in the Sydney to Hobart race? Many of the black sails are made of carbon filaments and glued together. This allowed for variation in strength across the sail

Some are also strong synthetics coloured black to keep the sun from rotting the sails.

Do sailors sleep Sydney to Hobart? Yes, Usually on a watch system where half are on deck and half before. Each boat has its own system but many use the four hours on, four hours off system.

Who is the favourite for the Sydney to Hobart yacht race? That would be Andoo Comanche for the line honours. Defending champion Celestial and URM are among the contenders for the overall but this is very weather dependent.

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sydney to hobart yacht race boat tracker

How big are the yachts? The biggest allowed is 100 foot and the smallest is 30 foot.

How do you follow the race? News Corp will be on the ground in Sydney and Hobart for extensive news and behind the scenes coverage form the first to the very last boat. There is also a tracker on the official website that can be ultilised to find the position of yachts and their projected results during the race.

What is the Sydney to Hobart race record? It was set by LDV Comanche back in 2017 and is one day, nine hours, 15 minutes and 24 seconds.

Originally published as Sydney to Hobart yacht race 2023 guide: history, start time, black sails, favourites, distance, tracker

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Andoo Comanche takes out Sydney to Hobart as supermaxi makes race history

Andoo Comanche wins the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race, skipper John Winning Jnr. Picture: Chris Kidd

Australian supermaxi Andoo Comanche secured a fourth line honours victory in the gruelling Sydney-Hobart ocean race Wednesday, but fell short of setting a new course record.

The 100-foot yacht, skippered by John Winning Jnr, triumphed in a nail-biting finish in the early hours of Wednesday after leading the blue water classic for much of the race.

It completed a quartet of line honours wins for the boat in the prestigious event since 2015 under a third different owner.

Andoo Comanche crossed with a time of one day, 11 hours, 56 minutes and 48 seconds -- about 20 minutes in front of rival supermaxi Law Connect -- and just under three hours short of its own record.

The current race record of one day, nine hours, 15 minutes and 24 seconds was set by the same Comanche boat under a different skipper in 2017.

Winning Jnr was part of the team that won the event in 2016, but said it was something special to skipper his own crew.

“To do it in a campaign that I was part of putting together is really quite exceptional,” he told national broadcaster ABC.

Last year’s defending champion Black Jack crossed third, followed by Wild Oats, which fell behind after tearing one of its sails earlier in the race.

The 109-strong racing fleet set off from a sun-splashed Sydney Harbour on Monday afternoon, charting their way through the 628-nautical mile course (1163km) to Hobart.

Favourable weather early in the race raised the prospect of toppling that mark, but the strong winds faded as the boats barrelled towards the finish line in Hobart.

The Bass Strait, which separates Tasmania from the mainland, can unleash perilous conditions.

A deep depression proved catastrophic for the fleet in 1998, when six sailors were killed and 55 more were rescued after five boats sank.

Race officials on Tuesday evening said only three of the starting fleet had been forced to retire so far.

One of them, 40-foot yacht Yeah Baby, withdrew less than four hours into the race after reportedly colliding with a massive sunfish.

Dozens of smaller yachts were still in the water Wednesday morning, competing for the handicap prize, which compensates for boat size.


Comanche held a consistent lead of 20 nautical miles throughout the afternoon as it moved towards the Derwent with LawConnect telling the Nine papers they expect to arrive at Constitution Dock in Hobart at around 2am AEDT.

As darkness neared, Wild Oats XI fell back into fourth having suffered sail damage overnight while reigning line honours winner Black Jack was third, some five nautical miles behind LawConnect.


Comanche led the fleet into Bass Strait in the early morning, but slipping well behind LDV Comanche’s race record from 2017. Three of the four supermaxis (100-plus-footers) ran well east of the rhumbline to take advantage of marginally stronger winds, before turning back towards the coast of Tasmania around midday.

There were two retirements on the first day, with two-hander Avalanche the first to pull back to shore with a damaged bowsprit after a collision with Llama II just outside the Sydney Heads. Llama II escaped with only superficial damage.

Yeah Baby then retired in the evening after sustaining rudder damage near Wollongong due to a collision with a sunfish, but returned safely to Sydney.

Koa then became the third retirement after breaking her rudder, and is set to be towed to Eden on the NSW south coast, leaving 106 yachts still in the race. Enterprise Next Generation put in a request for redress after helping their stricken rival.


Hamilton Island Wild Oats came within 0.3 nautical miles of Black Jack around 2am overnight in the hunt for third position, before Black Jack surged in the early morning.

The pair traded positions throughout the day, with Wild Oats taking a line significantly closer to rhumbline.

It followed a wild start where both Comanche and Wild Oats were forced to take penalty turns following a series of near-misses in Sydney Harbour (more below).

Wild Oats - hunting a record tenth line honours win - then suffered damage to one of their two largest sails overnight.

Their veteran crewman Chris Links told NewsLocal a seam across one of their large downwind sails split, requiring running repairs on deck.

“It is not an easy job,’’ Links said.

“It has a cable in it and we had to do the repair on deck.

“It took around one and a half hours to repair.’’


Watch live on-board action from LawConnect below.


“Protest, get the flag up, that was f***ing bull***t,” someone yelled on Andoo Comanche in the first two minutes after being cut off by rival supermaxis LawConnect and Black Jack.

URM and LawConnect were also “inches” away from crashing into each other, according to URM skipper Ashley-Jones.

Less than a minute later, one of the crew was heard barking: “you’re asking for a clusterf***, we’re going to be in a collision,” and labelled one rival a “f***ing idiot”.

Comanche hit a turning mark as it exited the heads and was later spotted flying a protest flag of their own, after another boat protested them.

On Wild Oats, which took two penalty turns, skipper Mark Richards could be heard yelling “furl, furl, we are going to do a 720 (penalty turn)”.

Wild Oats famously lost the win in 2017 upon arrival in Hobart, after being handed a one-hour penalty for a rule breach over an incident with Comanche.

That race saw the record time set, with 2022’s Comanche roughly eight nautical miles behind the 2017 edition’s pace late on Monday night and falling further back overnight.


More than 100 yachts set sail Monday on the Sydney-Hobart race as favourable winds raised hopes for a record time in one of the world’s most punishing ocean events.

Fans gathered at coastal vantage points and on spectator boats in a sun-splashed Sydney Harbour, which hours earlier had been shrouded in a thick fog that halted all ferry traffic.

The starting cannon fired to release 109 yachts on the 628-nautical mile (1,200-kilometre) blue water classic.

Crews dashed to get out of the city’s harbour on the first leg of the race down Australia’s eastern coast and across the treacherous Bass Strait towards the finish line in the Tasmanian state capital.

A final weather briefing on race day predicted “fresh to strong” north to northeasterly winds in the next day or so, giving the fastest, 100-foot supermaxi yachts a chance to challenge Comanche’s 2017 record of one day, 9 hours, 15min and 24sec.

Mark Richards, skipper of nine-time line honours-winning supermaxi Wild Oats, said his crew was buoyant after preparing for exactly these conditions.

“We put all our eggs in one basket and we put all our money on black for a downwind forecast and we have ended up getting it,” he told public broadcaster ABC.

“I think Wild Oats is going to be very fast,” Richards added. “The world is going to find out who is the fastest boat downwind.”

Wild Oats is competing for line honours against three rival supermaxis: Andoo Comanche, last year’s line honours winner Black Jack, and LawConnect.

Weather is a critical factor in the race, which was first held in 1945. Though the supermaxis are expected to be powered by northerly winds to a quick finish as early as Tuesday, slower mid- to small-sized boats will still be in the water in the following days facing possible gales and changes in wind direction.

In 1998, when a deep depression exploded over the fleet in the Bass Strait, six men died, five boats sank and 55 sailors were rescued.

Black Jack took line honours last year after a tight tussle with LawConnect, ending years of frustrating near misses to cross the finish line on the River Derwent after two days, 12 hours, 37min and 17sec.

Ichi Ban, which is not racing this year, was the 2021 winner of the overall handicap prize, which takes into account the yachts’ sizes. The boat pipped rival Celestial in a race where dangerous waves and weather conditions saw many withdraw.

International boats are making a return after the race was cancelled in 2020 for the first time due to the pandemic, and Covid hit the fleet last year.

Entrants come from Germany (Orione), Hong Kong (Antipodes), Hungary (Cassiopeia 68), New Caledonia (Eye Candy and Poulpito), New Zealand (Caro), Britain (Sunrise) and the United States (Warrior Won).

Sunrise is a proven ocean racer, winning the 2021 Fastnet Race in Britain, while Caro has been tipped to take out overall handicap honours, although skipper Max Klink played down his prospects ahead of the race saying: “I do not think we are the favourite.”

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Andoo Comanche sails through Sydney Harbour during the start of the Sydney to Hobart yacht

Dramatic start to Sydney to Hobart yacht race with close calls and wild weather

  • Fleet sets off on Boxing Day in 78th edition of bluewater classic
  • Andoo Comanche takes lead with eye on back-to-back line honours

Line honours favourite Andoo Comanche has taken the lead in the Sydney to Hobart after a dramatic start to the revered yacht race.

Comanche, the 2022 line honours winner, was travelling 28 miles off the coast of Port Kembla, south of Wollongong, when she overtook LawConnect roughly three-and-a-half hours into the race.

LawConnect, last year’s runner-up and a fellow 100-foot supermaxi, had taken an early lead out of the Sydney Heads, and later remained in hot pursuit of leader Comanche as they travelled at roughly 19 knots in northeasterly winds.

The two frontrunners have opened up a gap on third-placed supermaxi SHK Scallywag, which was about four miles behind Comanche when she passed LawConnect.

In-form 72-footer URM Group, along with Moneypenny and 2018 overall winner Alive – all contenders for handicap honours – appeared best-placed of the smaller boats.

Four hours into the race, the fleet remained at 103 boats – the same number that crossed the start line in Sydney Harbour.

Scallywag had earlier completed a 720-degree penalty turn in a bid to avoid a possible time sanction.

Accusing Scallywag of tacking too close, Comanche’s crew could be heard on broadcast coverage yelling to their rivals before formally flying a red protest flag.

The boats appeared to come within metres of each other.

The fact the incident had taken place in Sydney Harbour meant Scallywag had only a limited distance in which to complete the penalty turns, or risk receiving a time sanction on arrival in Hobart.

In 2017, Wild Oats XI opted not to respond to a protest from Comanche early in the race and a subsequent one-hour time penalty cost her a line honours victory.

Race officials confirmed Scallywag completed the turn off the coast of Bondi Beach.

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After a heavy storm cleared just before the 1pm starting gun, LawConnect led the way across the line then made the best of a change in the wind to pass the heads first.

But when a furling line snapped after LawConnect passed the first marker out of the Sydney Heads, she turned towards the spectator fleet in an attempt to correct the issue. The furling line issue has since been fixed.

The fleet is expected to encounter stormy conditions south of Jervis Bay on the NSW south coast.

Sudden and erratic wind changes, hail, rain and reduced visibility are all on the cards across the first two days of racing.

Easterly winds as strong as 35 knots are forecast for the far south coast of NSW on the night of Boxing Day and could impact the bigger boats in the fleet.

Winds are forecast to remain strong across the Bass Strait and southeast Tasmania on the morning of December 28, with storms a chance to continue affecting smaller boats.

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Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2024

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The Yachts - Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race

Sydney to Hobart yacht race 2023 — how to watch and what to look out for

Yacht racing with Sydney Harbour Bridge in background.

The sight of big yachts tearing around Sydney Harbour's blue water with crews scrambling over the deck at the start of the annual Sydney to Hobart race, can be thrilling, if somewhat confusing, watching.

Where is the start line? Are those boats going to crash into each other? What happens if someone falls off?

Do crew members get any sleep during the race? What prizes are they racing for? What do you mean the first over the finish line is not considered the top prize?

Wait, what ... there is a boat called Imalizard?

So many questions!

Let's try and answer them.

The fleet leaves Sydney Harbour following the start of the Sydney to Hobart yacht race.

Where do they start?

This year, the 78th running of the Sydney to Hobart, has a fleet of over 100 boats ranging from supermaxis (typically boats over 21 metres) to smaller yachts.

There are two starting 'lines' with the larger yachts on the northern line just north of Shark Island, and the smaller boats on the southern line.

Two rounding marks off Sydney Heads compensate for the distance between the lines, before the fleet heads to sea on the ocean voyage to Hobart, 628 nautical miles (1,163 kilometres) away.

When does it begin?

It's already started!

At 1pm AEDT on Boxing Day (December 26) the ceremonial cannon was fired, marking the start of the race.

A ceremonial starting cannon is fired from a yacht.

How can I watch it?

Race sponsor Rolex says the start will be broadcast live on the Seven Network throughout Australia and live and on demand on the 7Plus app.

Internationally, the race will be available through YouTube on the CYCATV channel or via Rolex Sydney Hobart's Facebook page.

If you are in Sydney and on the water, spectators who wish to watch the start but not follow the fleet are advised to stick to the "western side of the harbour".

A group of people stand on the shore and look out at Sydney Harbour, as some film the Sydney to Harbour fleet.

Good vantage points for spectator boats include "Taylors Bay, Chowder Bay, Obelisk Bay and North Head on the west and Rose Bay, Watsons Bay, Camp Cove and South Head to the east".

According to organisers, the harbour will be "very crowded and traffic can be chaotic, so stay alert, follow the advice of race officials and remember to keep well clear of the exclusion zone between 12pm and 2pm".

Will there actually be some near misses?

The start is when things can get feisty, with crews trying to get their yachts into the best position before the cannon shot and on the run to get around Sydney Heads and out into the South Pacific Ocean.

This is when near misses and actual collisions can happen, with spicy language occasionally making it onto the live television broadcast thanks to cameras on the boats.

Members of the public watching from boats are told to stay in a "zone" away from race competitors, but that can still make for more potential near misses as the competitor boats weave across the water trying to find their best way into the start line at just the right time.

All in all it can look like chaos and often results in protests being lodged by crews who allege other teams of a wide range of infringements of race rules, across the entire course all the way to the finish.

Sometimes, if protested against, boats can perform "penalty turns" while at sea as punishment. Both Wild Oats XI and Comanche performed penalty turns last year following a scrape in Sydney Harbour.

A supermaxi boat races along Sydney Harbour with at least half of the hull lifted out of the water.

Decision to make — follow the coast or head out to sea

Once out of the harbour, the fleet then begins to make its way down the east coast of Australia, and are faced with a decision — to either stay close to the coast or to go further into open water where the East Australia Current can carry them. The amount of wind dictates this decision.

After navigating the NSW South Coast, it is then into Bass Strait, where the worst conditions are generally found, with strong winds and big waves.

Simply surviving is the key here. Equipment failure and breakage ends many a team's race during this stretch.

Yacht on its side on a beach with waves in foreground.

With Bass Strait successfully navigated, another choice needs to be made — sail close to the coast of Tasmania where they will find better water — or further out where winds are heavier.

Whichever the way, soon boats will be rounding "Tasman Light" and crossing Storm Bay. Then, they'll pass the Iron Pot at the mouth of the River Derwent . 

After a crawl up the often windless Derwent, boats will cross the finish line at Castray Esplanade before eventually settling in Hobart's Constitution Dock.

Sydney to Hobart trophies

What are they racing for?

There is no prize money for the winners. 

Instead, crews race for trophies in a number of categories , the main events for casual observers being Line Honours (first across the line) and Overall (winner decided based on handicap).

The first yacht across the line wins the JH Illingworth Challenge Cup, while the Overall winner on handicap wins the Tattersalls Cup.

The Overall winner is considered a truer indication of sailing skill . The boats are smaller and lighter and therefore not as naturally fast. Getting them to Hobart is tougher. Handicaps (time adjustments) are calculated by a range of factors such as the weight and length of the boat.

Crew of a supermaxi yacht on deck during yacht racing event.

Most of the time, Overall honours are won by a smaller, slower boat, which outdoes its larger opposition when time is adjusted for size and other factors.

The reigning Line Honours victor is Andoo Comanche, which won in a time of 1 day, 11 hours, and 15 minutes, the boat's 4th line honours victory.

The reigning Overall winner is Celestial, which finished 2022's race in 2 days, 16 hours, and 15 minutes.

In 2017, LDV Comanche set a new line honours record, finishing first in 1 day, 9 hours, 15 minutes and 24 seconds, beating Perpetual Loyal's record of 1 day, 13 hours, 31 minutes and 20 seconds, set the previous year.

Comanche takes the lead in the Sydney to Hobart on day one

Who can race?

The minimum age to compete in the race is 18 years of age. There is no upper age limit.

Each yacht generally carries between six and 24 crew members, the average across the fleet being 10 to 11.

The head of the crew is the skipper and often the skipper also owns the yacht. Other positions on board include the "helmsperson, navigator, tactician, trimmers and foredeck person, or for'ard hand", race organisers explain.

Two-hander boats (a category introduced in 2020) attempt the voyage with only two crew members.

A team of men surround a silver cup trophy.

After the 1998 race, in which six sailors died, five yachts sank, more than 60 yachts retired and 55 sailors had to be rescued by helicopter, at least 50 per cent of crew members in a team have to have completed a sea safety survival course.

All competitors must have completed an approved "Category 1" equivalent passage. One advertised course for Sydney to Hobart wannabe sailors offers five days of "continuously sailing" across a 500 nautical mile passage off the New South Wales coast, starting at $1,795 per person.

1955 Sydney to Hobart race start

Conditions on board can be cramped and extreme, with very rough seas often battering yachts along the way. If a crew member goes over the side, that means teams have to circle back to collect them.

Winner of the 2022 Two-Handed Division Rupert Henry said for his two-person team, "we only manage around four hours max of sleep each".

"We know when each other needs to crash so we do it then."

As for people who easily get sea sick, perhaps this is not the hobby for you.

Crew members in red jackets race a blue and white yacht at sea

How can I follow the boats online?

You can follow the race on an online tracker , which shows the positions of yachts as they move south, via a GPS device on each vessel. 

As the race goes on, you can see the course charted by crews — unless of course the boat's GPS device gets switched off, rendering it invisible to spectators and other competitors — an accusation that was levelled at Wild Oats XI in 2018 by the owner of Black Jack.

Yachts can also be tracked on the Marine Traffic website .

Sydney to Hobart yacht race tracker.

Imalizard, Eye Candy and Millennium Falcon — what's in a name?

If you are the kind who chooses a favourite yacht based on the name, there are some good ones this year, including Imalizard, Disko Trooper, Millennium Falcon, Lenny, Mister Lucky, Pacman, Toecutter, Extasea, two yachts with Yeah Baby in their names, Chutzpah, Ciao Bella and Eye Candy.

Not among 2023's starters is Huntress, which came to grief last year after breaking a rudder, with the crew abandoning the vessel and it later drifting and  washing up on a remote Tasmanian beach , leading to a dispute over the salvage rights .

A yacht saling on a river with city in background.

Main contenders for the Overall title are Alive (2018 winner, a Tasmanian boat), Chutzpah, Celestial, Smuggler and URM, as well as supermaxis LawConnect, SHK Scallywag, Andoo Comanche and Wild Thing.

Barring disaster, the Line Honours winner will almost certainly be one of the four supermaxis.

This yacht has raced under several names, previously racing as Perpetual LOYAL, Investec LOYAL and InfoTrack.

In 2016, Perpetual LOYAL became the fastest-ever boat to complete the race, setting a new race record of 1 day, 13 hours, 31 minutes, and 12 seconds. That record has since been broken by LDV Comanche in 2017. Investec LOYAL also sailed to victory in 2011.

Previous owner Anthony Bell declared after his 2016 victory that he would be selling the boat. It was picked up by tech entrepreneur Christian Beck, with the boat's name changed to InfoTrack.

Now called LawConnect, conditions haven't suited the heavier yacht in recent years. It is yet to win a Sydney to Hobart under its new name and ownership but is always among the leaders' pack. It recently defeated Comanche in the Big Boat Challenge, a traditional lead-up event to the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race.

Andoo Comanche

John Winning Junior took over from Jim Cooney as skipper of the newly named 'Andoo' Comanche last year, and had instant success, beating its rivals to a 4th Line Honours victory. In 2017, it defeated Wild Oats for Line Honours, setting a race record in the process, but only after a controversial protest. It also claimed Line Honours in 2019.

Andoo Comanche will enter as hot favourite for Line Honours this year after installing a brand new million-dollar sails package and winning the Cabbage Tree Island race – it did however finish second to LawConnect in this month's Big Boat Challenge .

SHK Scallywag

Scallywag looms as a wild card in this year's race, and on its day can challenge the likes of Comanche. Scallywag is lighter and narrower than Comanche, and is better suited to lighter wind conditions.

It has undergone modifications during the winter and will have a pair of Americas Cup sailors on board in Luke Payne and Luke Parkinson. Scallywag has never won a Line Honours victory.

Wild Thing 100

Wild Thing 100 will be the newest supermaxi to be launched when it makes its debut in this year's race.

Owner Grant Wharrington has modified Stefan Racing, a Botin 80, which he sailed to fourth over the line in 2021 and 6th last year. Under the extension, the yacht has been rebranded as Wild Thing 100. Wharrington took Line Honours in 2003 with his previous Wild Thing, but the following year, whilst leading the fleet to Hobart, she lost her canting keel and capsized in Bass Strait.

Some other Sydney to Hobart race facts:

Thirteen of the last 17 Line Honours victories have been claimed by Comanche or Wild Oats Wild Oats XI is not participating this year, the second time in three years the nine-time Line Honours winner has not raced. Skipper mark Richards said he'd be spending the time "relaxing somewhere with a beer in my hand" There are 21 two-handed crews (two-person team) competing The smallest boats in the fleet are a pair of 30-footers, Currawong and Niksen. Both are two-handers and Currawong is crewed by two women, Kathy Veel and Bridget Canham The oldest boat to enter this year's race is Christina, built in 1932 There are 10 international crews competing in this year's event It is tradition that the skipper of the boat first in to Hobart jumps into the chilly water of the Derwent

Supermaxi LawConnect sails down Sydney Harbour toward the finish line of the Big Boat Challenge.

When does the race finish?

The Line Honours winner is likely to come in around 48 hours after the start, but this is very much dependent on the weather —  especially in the 22.2-kilometre final stretch up the Derwent River to the finish line.

This is when the wind can drop away and it becomes a crawl , with every trick in the book pulled out to make headway.

Yachts can finish at any time of the day or night.

In 2021, Black Jack crossed the line at 1:37am on December 29, followed by LawConnect at 4:11am and SHK Scallywag about 20 minutes after that.

In 2019, Comanche came in at a more reasonable time of 7:30am on December 28, with InfoTrack about 45 minutes later.

"It matters not whether it is in the wee hours of the morning or the middle of the day — a boisterous and enthusiastic crowd is on hand to clap and cheer the winning yacht to its berth," organisers say.

But the cheering was not just reserved for the first finishers.

In the 2022 race, the final yacht — Currawong — timed its finish impeccably, coming in just before midnight on December 31 , to be met with rousing applause from crowds at Hobart's wharf for New Year's Eve celebrations and an accompanying fireworks display.

Four men in black overalls stand on a yacht with arms around each other or clapping.

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2023 Fastnet Smallest & 2nd Oldest Boat: Little Aussie Maluka


The little Aussie fighter Maluka, built in 1932, had already won her class in the Sydney Hobart – twice. Nic Compton delves into her history and her challenging 2023 Fastnet.

The little aussie maluka in the 2023 fastnet.

You have to admire Sean Langman’s pluck. Even before the 2023 Fastnet had begun, he had placed bets on his Maluka – the smallest and second oldest boat in the fleet – beating a Sigma 33 racing in the same class. Not on handicap, mind, but on the water. It seemed like a preposterous idea, a 1932 gaff-rigged 28-footer taking on a relatively modern cruiser-racer , never mind the Swan 36 and Sagitta 35 (both S&S designed fin-keelers) also racing in that class. But it wasn’t impossible. After all, this little Australian-born survivor had already competed in eight Sydney to Hobart races since she was restored in 2006, winning her class in two of them. Could she pull off the same trick on the other side of the world? I had to find out.


Maluka and her crew were in tidying up mode when I visited them at Ocean Village Marina in Southampton three days before the start of the race. Bags were being unloaded, the cabin sole hoovered and tools tidied away in anticipation of a rough passage. Sean proudly showed me the new ‘baby stay’ he had just fitted so that they could set three headsails during the race without affecting the boat’s IRC handicap: a flying jib from the end of the bowsprit, a staysail on the forestay, and the storm trysail on the baby stay. 

Crack crew for a quick spin

What was immediately apparent looking at Maluka from the outside was the uncompromising mix of modern and traditional materials. The bowsprit, rubbing strake and capping rail are all made of varnished spotted gum, with its quirky, swirling grain giving a reassuringly ‘woody’ feel. Look more closely and the flawless hull is clearly sheathed, while the stout brown mast is painted carbon fibre. And there are more than enough self-tailing winches, halyard jammers, modern cordage (including Dyneema forestays) and some very expensive-looking laminated sails to get the purists all hot under the collar. 

It so happened that Sean wanted to try out the sails that day, so I joined Maluka for a quick spin around Southampton Water. And what a crew we had. Sean himself is something of a legend in Australian yachting circles, having raced everything from 18ft skiffs and 49ers as well as 30 appearances in the Sydney to Hobart Race. Also on board Maluka was his long-time friend Gordon Maguire (aka ‘Gorgeous Gordy’), a veteran of the Volvo Ocean Race and five-times winner of the Sydney to Hobart. And, just as we were about to leave the dock, British sailing legend Ian Barker (49er champion and Silver medallist at the 2000 Olympics ) hopped on board for the ride.

Maluka sailing

With such an illustrious crew on board, there was no doubt that Maluka would be taken through her paces. And, despite the laid-back Australian vibe, what soon became apparent was how hard these guys sail, even on an old gaffer. As we tacked upwind in a gentle breeze, the sheets were winched in taut and the sails centred and flat. There was little concession for the age of the boat or the limitations of gaff rig when sailing to windward. 

In truth, modern sail materials combined with a stiffer hull and rig structure have massively improved the performance of a ‘modern gaffer’ such as Maluka , which means that even upwind she is able to hold her own against most modern yachts. And that is the main reason she is able to compete in events such as the Sydney to Hobart and the Fastnet races with impunity. Although, as ever, speed is relative, especially in the context of one of the most competitive yacht races in the world.

“You’ve got to take your watch off when you’re racing on Maluka ,” Sean said before the race, “because if you keep looking at your watch then you’re going to going to end up slashing your wrist. The plan is to keep her trumping along, don’t try to sail too high; it’s about getting water under the keel and staying on the making leg. With Maluka , it’s about getting to the other end and enjoying the challenge of getting there. At times you get exhilarated, at times you get frustrated – but she has got a 9ft-long quarter berth with a very thick cushion, and I just bought some new pillows…”


Early fame for Maluka

It’s all a long way (physically and metaphorically) from Maluka ’s roots on the east coast of Australia. Two wealthy brothers, George and William Clark, who had made their fortune grazing sheep in the Australian outback, were looking for a seaworthy boat to sail further afield. They turned to amateur yacht designer Cliff Gale who, as well as skippering the Fife 9-Metre Josephine to victory on many occasions, had designed a string of small boats for local sailors. It seems likely that Gale had been working on the design of a 24ft family centreboarder for his own use, and when the Clark brothers approached him, he offered them a scaled-up version of that design. 

The new design had the same, distinctive raised foredeck as the smaller boat but, instead of a centreboard, was fitted with what might be best described as a long fin keel, giving her a cutaway bow and a 5ft 6in draft. Combined with a 10ft 5in beam and a firm tuck on the bilges, it made for a fast and stable boat with enough reserve buoyancy to feel safe in a seaway. Maluka was built of Huon pine by legendary Sydney boatbuilder William ‘Billy’ Fisher and launched in 1932.

1930s maluka

The Clark brothers had ambitious plans for their new acquisition and, in an age when few people ventured far afield in small yachts, became famous for their long cruises on Australia’s east coast, sailing to Queensland, Tasmania, and Lord Howe Island – the latter some 425 miles northeast of Sydney. Not all their voyages went to plan. Their first attempt to sail to Tasmania ended in disaster when Maluka was wrecked on rocks on the coast of Victoria. Undaunted, they patched her up, sailed her back to Sydney, and the following year tried again, this time reaching their intended destination – thereby anticipating the first Sydney to Hobart race by ten years.

Meanwhile, no doubt prompted by the success of Maluka , Gale pressed ahead with his 24-footer, which was also built of huon pine by Billy Fisher and launched a year after Maluka . With its large cockpit and useful accommodation space, it proved an ideal family boat for Sydney Harbour, and half a dozen sisterships were soon built. The boats became known as the Ranger class, after the first boat built to the design.

Maluka early

Reclaiming the Ranger yachts

It was one of these smaller boats that drew Sean Langman back into classic yachts. Born in Sydney on a 52ft pearling lugger, Sean was a former rigger turned entrepreneur who set up a shipyard business (the Noakes Group) as well as owning a string of hotels and ferries. His family had owned the Ranger class Vagrant back in the 1960s and 70s, and Sean grew up sailing the boat on Sydney Harbour. He was 12 years old when they eventually sold her and he says he cried for a month and vowed to buy her back again one day. 

It was nearly 20 years before Sean was able to make his childhood promise come true. By then, the boat was suffering the effects of a long life in a hot climate, and Sean set about restoring her – not in a purist fashion, but using modern materials wherever necessary to make her stiff and strong enough to race competitively. Sean had by then become a regular fixture in the Sydney yachting scene, racing ultra-modern boats such as the 90ft maxi AAPT (ex- Nicorette ). His foray into wooden boats might have seemed like a romantic gesture, until he came across Maluka and started thinking about the possibilities of racing this slightly larger Ranger-type design.

“I had just moved into the push-button, canting-keel, super-maxi offshore racing scene, and I absolutely hated it. I felt really disenfranchised by such a reliance on engines and technology – it didn’t feel like real sailing,” he says. “Then I read about the Clark brothers and their exploits on Maluka , including sailing to Tasmania ten years before the first Sydney to Hobart race, and I wondered if we could do the same.” 

Maluka early

Restoring Maluka for racing rules

Bringing Maluka up to standard to comply with 21 st century race scantling rules, however, required some radical work. Firstly, the old deadwood was removed and replaced with recycled mahogany from a superyacht packing case, adding a few inches to her draft in the process. All the frames were removed and replaced with 62 spotted gum steam-bent frames and three laminated flooded gum ring frames, all traditionally fastened with copper nails and roves. Then the entire hull was sheathed with six layers of glassfibre and epoxy. 

The original cockpit was too big to comply with race rules, so it was removed (it was rotten anyway) and replaced with a shallower version with higher seats. The coachroof was extended aft by 18in, to reduce the length of the cockpit, and the original red cedar deck was covered with a layer of plywood and sealed with two layers of glassfibre to bring it up to the required thickness. 

rebuild maluka

Below decks, the original joinery, which looked in terrible shape under countless layers of shellac, cleaned up beautifully with the help of a little oven cleaner. That all went back in unaltered, apart from a new, lower cabin sole. The longer coachroof and raised cockpit created more space which allowed Sean to enlarge the galley and chart table as well as freeing space for a couple of 9ft long quarter berths. 

Sean then turned his attention to the rig. First the symmetric spinnaker and overlapping genoa were removed, to improve her IRC rating. Then the mainsail area was reduced and the amount of roach was diminished. The more he and the sailmakers at Doyle worked on it, the closer the sail plan returned to its original 1932 configuration. The main addition was a super-lightweight Code Zero spinnaker for light winds, with longer crosstrees and a Dyform wire forestay to support it. 


The original plan had been to make a new wooden mast for the boat, but with time running out for the start of the 2006 Sydney to Hobart race, the Noakes boatbuilding team realised it would be quicker to make one out of carbon fibre. The resulting mast took just three days to build and, while not especially light, is described as “bullet proof” – as proven when it suffered a 360° knockdown in 75-knot winds in the Bass Strait. 

Maluka surprised everyone in the 2006 Sydney to Hobart not only by NOT finishing last but by winning the Plumb Crazy Trophy for first yacht under 9.5m to finish the race. More to the point, she was by far the oldest boat in the fleet. The very idea of the Clark’s knockabout cruiser competing in such an auspicious event must have seemed ludicrous – until she did it.

240 miles in 24 hours

The boat has raced in seven editions of the race since then, with mixed results. She finished last in 2011 and 2012, but recorded her top ever speed of 17.7 knots in 2014 – quite an achievement for a 29ft monohull. In 2016 she broke her 24-hour record, clocking up 240 miles with a top speed of 14 knots and winning her IRC class. The secret of her success that year seemed to be an extreme form of water ballast.

“Our take-no-prisoners approach to sailing Maluka meant that she had three on the helm and, by allowing the cockpit to fill with water, she maintained sufficient stern-down trim to carry full sail in winds exceeding 30 knots,” Sean wrote in the Old Gaffers Association’s Logbook. “At the time I didn’t admit it to the crew but this was, to me, both exciting as well as frightening sailing.”

In between times, Sean was still messing about on modern boats, culminating in 2018 with his 69ft Reichel/Pugh design Moneypenny . He was racing on Moneypenny in the 2022 Sydney to Hobart Race while Peter was on Maluka and was reportedly in tears when Maluka finished first in IRC Division 5, two days after Moneypenny finished first in Division 0. It was a special moment for father and son, sailing one of the fastest ( Moneypenny was 9 th over the line) and one of the slowest ( Maluka was 97 th ) boats in the race. 

Surviving the gale-bound 2023 Fastnet

When it came to competing in the Fastnet race, however, Sean always knew he wanted to bring the older boat to Europe. And so in the middle of May 2023, Maluka arrived in Cork. The Irish port happened to be the nearest place the boat could conveniently be shipped to but, as Sean points out, the delivery trip from Cork to Southampton did allow him to check out the first half of the Fastnet course (albeit in reverse) and to get acquainted with those pesky tides – something Australian sailors don’t usually have to worry about. As Sean says, “We don’t have double tides on the Australian east coast. They go in one direction and average a 1.2 metre maximum range. They also run at most one knot. ”  

After a gentle cruise up the south coast of England, all hell broke loose for the start for the 2023 Rolex Fastnet Race. Winds of over 40 knots screamed down the Solent as a fleet of 430 yachts battled across the start line off the Royal Yacht Squadron in Cowes . The wind was from the southwest, which meant the fleet had to beat to windward as it headed past the Needles, down the English Channel and onwards to the Irish Sea. One boat sank, four were dismasted and more than 100 entrants retired with the first 24 hours.

at sea

Despite the dire conditions, Maluka toughed it out long after many much bigger competitors had given up. She might have been the smallest and second oldest boat in the fleet, but her progress in the first 24 hours was nothing short of outstanding, as she hugged the south coast of England, while the ‘big boys’ fought it out in the English Channel. On board with Sean were the aforementioned Gordon Maguire, along with Volvo Ocean Race veteran Josh Alexander, Sean’s son Peter, and long-time Noakes employee and regular crew Peter Inchbold. 

The next day, skipper Sean Langman summed things up in his own inimitable way: “Been a little fruity out here,” he wrote on Facebook. “Little Maluka and crew toughed out a big night. Now reaping beautiful sailing.”

It was only when the wind eased crossing the Irish Sea that the old lady began to feel her age and slowed down somewhat. Her finish time was 6 days, 3 hours and 40 minutes, making her 185 th out of 201 IRC finishers. As for that pesky Sigma 33, she finished just an hour and a half ahead of Maluka , pushing the much older boat into second place over the line, although Maluka still won the class (IRC Division 4B) comfortably on handicap. Sean had lost his bet but, more importantly, Maluka had won the race. 

The crew could go home with their heads held high, knowing they had taken on the best Europe could throw at them and won. And this time they didn’t even have to flood the cockpit with sea water.

Designed Cliff Gale

Built William ‘Billy’ Fisher, 1932

Beam 10ft 5in 

Draught 5ft 6in

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